European soccer has a crazy following in almost all European nations, and some of the national leagues are even broadcasted for billions all around the world to watch.
European National Soccer Rosters
When you are learning about this particular subject, you have to take the UEFA European Football Championship into account. This tournament is held every 4 years (2 years after the FIFA World Cup), and is exclusively for the European nations. The last tournament was co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine in 2012, and it was won by Spain.
The 2012 version was the last version in which only 16 teams qualified for the tournament. From 2016 onwards, 24 teams will be allowed to participate in the final tournament. The first tournament was held in 1960 in France, and it was won by the erstwhile Soviet Union. In those times, it was known as the European Nation's Cup.
The nation that hosts the tournament is given automatic qualification, and the rest of the teams have to play through a series of qualifying rounds. These teams are divided into various groups based on a seeding system, so that each team gets a fair chance to qualify in accordance to its performance. Each team in a particular group has to play all the other teams twice (home and away), and in order to qualify they must finish in the qualifying spots. There are two playoff spots in each group as well, and the teams that finish in these spots have to play a two-legged elimination against a randomly picked team, that finished in the same spot in another group. During the qualifying process, a win earns a team 3 points, a draw gets both teams 1 point each, and the loser gets 0 points. The teams with the most points are ranked higher in the group table. If two or more teams are tied with the same points, their positions are determined first by the goal difference (goals scored minus goals conceded), then goals scored, then goals conceded, and finally their result against each other.
In the final tournament, the teams are divided into 4 seeded groups with 4 teams each. Each team plays the other teams once. If a team qualifies, it progresses to the knockout rounds, which ultimately ends with the final, and a third place playoff. Knockout matches that end in a draw, are given 30 minutes of extra time, after which they go to penalties if the scores are still level. The coaches of each of these teams are free to pick soccer players who are eligible to play for their countries, with a squad of 23 players allowed for the final tournament.
|Year of Tournament||Hosts||Winners|
|2000||Belgium and Netherlands||France|
|2008||Austria and Switzerland||Spain|
European League Soccer Rosters
League football is very different from national football in Europe. Each country has multiple leagues starting with the very basic amateur levels at the bottom, advancing to the top divisions. The biggest national leagues are the Barclays Premier League (England), La Liga (Spain), Serie A (Italy), Bundesliga (Germany), Ligue 1 (France), and the Primeira Liga (Portugal). Each team has to play the other teams twice (home and away), and the points system is the same as mentioned above. The season is usually 10 months long, and the team that gets the most points at the end is the league winner.
Each team picks their players based on several different factors. The coaches pick players from the reserve team of each club, the youth teams, or they buy players from anywhere in the world through the transfer market. These markets are open twice a year - between the end of the season and August 31, and between January 1 and January 31. The clubs have to negotiate players transfer fees with the current club of the player. After this they have to negotiate terms and conditions with the player, and then the player can switch clubs. The most expensive transfer was Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United to Real Madrid in June 2009 for $132 million.
The rules for adding players to rosters is something that is becoming a topic of intense debate. FIFA chief Sepp Blatter is keen to enforce the 6+5 rule which states that each club must play 6 homegrown players, and a maximum of 5 foreign players in any match. He claims that this will help leagues keep their nationality alive, and will also help the national teams. The need for this rule is stemming from the fact that more and more teams are recruiting foreign players, and are neglecting their national players as a result of this. The whole debate of club versus country is another issue, since the clubs claim that they are ultimately business franchises.
The biggest tournament for the European clubs is the UEFA Champions League. The top clubs from each country are pitted against each other, and play matches all season long to ultimately reach the final, and win club football's greatest prize. This tournament is held every year, and it originally was open only to the champions of each league from the previous season. Today, most of the big nations are allowed to send their top 4 teams to this competition, and smaller countries can send in 2-3 teams. This tournament started in 1955, and Real Madrid has won it the most number of times (9). Some of the biggest names in club football are as follows.
This information on European soccer rosters is only generic, and there are plenty more things to know regarding association football. With this knowledge you can start exploring more details about the most watched sport in the world.